Are HESI/ATI Exit Exams Harder Than NCLEX? (Episode 74-Navigating Nursing School Podcast)

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Want to learn the #1 quality I look for that tells me if a student will ultimately be successful in nursing school? Have you ever wondered if ATI and HESI are actually harder than the NCLEX? Or maybe you’ve got kids, and are second guessing all your life choices as you face a potential mental breakdown? I’ll help you out in today’s episode!

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Transcript for Episode 74

Hello lovely listeners! Are you on TikTok? Because I recently started a TikTok account, and it has been so much fun. If you are, you should look me up. Search for “YourNursingTutor”, or “Nurse Nicole” and you should see my face pop up. Or you can find the direct link in the show notes for today’s episode, located at www.YourNursingTutor.com/episode74  

Another place you can connect with me is on Facebook, which is where today’s podcast episode originally came from. At least once a month, I go live in my Facebook Group called “Nursing Students in Nursing School”, to answer all your nursing school questions. In this particular Q&A, you’ll get answers to questions about what it takes to be successful in nursing school, I’ll address the rumor that ATI and HESI exit exams are actually harder than the NCLEX, and we’ll even talk about doing nursing school with kids in tow.

As usual, today’s episode is brought to you by my VIP Tutoring Membership, which is an affordable way to get tutoring, mentorship, and the help you need to effectively navigate your nursing journey. I can guide you through any point of your nursing journey, from pre-nursing, to current student, to passing NCLEX, or even getting through your first 1-2 years as a new nurse, all without getting eaten.. We are proud to include members from all ages and all walks of life…many are adult learners in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or even 60’s, and others are straight out of high school. Some of previous healthcare experience, others have none. Some students are working towards their LPN, others are pursuing RN. One thing that every member has in common, though, is that you are fully committed to becoming a nurse, and doing it while surrounded by a positive and encouraging community, and committed to learning an effective and efficient way of studying that helps you fit nursing school into your everyday life.

Hey there, it’s Nicole Whitworth with your nursing tutor. And the free Facebook group nursing students in nursing school, which if you’re watching this, that means you’re part of the group. So this is not my normal backgrounds because I am sitting at my kids as homeschool Co Op. I’ve got six kids, you don’t know and we homeschool them. And tonight is the end of the year talent show. So my older kids are in rehearsal right now, my husband stopped by to get the younger kids and drive them around, so that I could have an hour to sit and do some work and answer your questions. So let’s get to the questions that are from the Facebook group this week. Let’s see which one did I want to do first? The first one I want us to do, actually closed by accident. So So I wanted to answer Lisa’s question first. She’s one of our new members. So welcome to the community, Lisa. She said that she started in 2019, with her pre nursing classes was accepted to in October 2020. And she didn’t fail her health assessment. And now she’s looking for daily help to be successful in the accelerated bachelor’s degree program that she has. And that’s amazing. I’ve tell people that the number one sign of success, a future success that I look for in students that I tutor is perseverance. Okay, and not just doing the same things over and over again, but looking at failure as a learning opportunity and not as your endgame. Because while it’s always disappointing, when your nursing journey doesn’t go as planned it, it just happens sometimes. And so what’s most important is that when that happens, that you stop, you know, it’s okay to grieve for a little bit, but then you stop, you look around, you reevaluate, you seek the help that you need to do things different, you take the lessons you learned about why you think the failure happens, and then you work to improve that. So that’s awesome that you’re looking for daily help. Honestly, that sounds like the perfect, you’d be the perfect kind of student for my VIP tutoring membership, which is my paid tutoring community, where that’s exactly what I offer, which is daily help. You can ask me questions in the members only Forum, which is not on Facebook, because I know Facebook can be a real time suck sometimes. And so it’s not good to jump on there when you’re studying. But it’s on Facebook, so you don’t get distracted by timelines. And you can post questions for me anytime during the week. And then we also do a weekly live group tutoring session. And the thing that makes this different than a lot of the other memberships for nursing students that are out there is that I really focus on teaching you how to think like a nurse, because that’s the most important thing, right? There’s so much content out there, you get told you need to like memorize the content all the time, you need to study harder and get the content. But the reality is you need to learn to think like a nurse, you don’t actually need to memorize as much as you think as long as you’re being, you know, memorizing the most important information, which is hard to do when you’re a new nursing student, and you don’t know what the most important information is, and you don’t have guidelines for how to figure it out. So that’s what I do is I have I teach you how to study in a way that helps you figure out the most important information. So you can just focus on the most important saving time, and more importantly, learning how to connect it, how to analyze it no client, because that’s what you’re really being tested on. So if you’d like more information about that, then just let me know, I’d be happy to send you the link so you can learn more about it. Another option is I have a podcast. And if you guys don’t know, I have a podcast called navigating nursing school with your nursing tutor. So that’s a great resource to just to kind of get to know me better and learn more about my teaching style. And I do a lot of tutoring consults on my podcast where I talk to real nursing students that are in situations just like you are. And we talk about where they’re at what their plan is for success and what we can do to make that easier for them. So that’s my answer for that. Let me see. I think, Okay, this is a really great question from Ross, who asked a question for those who have recently taken the NCLEX test. How similar in difficulty, were the questions to the ones you did on ATI, or Kaplan, if you’re not familiar with ATI or Kaplan, those are two really popular brands of testing and test prep stuff that a lot of nursing schools contract with to try to prepare their students for graduation and NCLEX. And so they can require them as exit exams or even like classroom exams, and review materials and things like that different schools use them different ways, but that’s generally what it is. So the this question gets asked a lot, I see it asked a lot, but it’s hard to answer. And this is why I might have a different take on this than you have heard elsewhere. But this is the truth, basically, is that you have to remember when you’re comparing these tests, To NCLEX, you always have to remember that NCLEX is a cat exam. And what a cat exam is, is computer adaptive test, see 80. That’s what cat stands for. And so with a computer adaptive exam, acute Buterin, adaptive test, it’s always adjusting the difficulty level of your questions based on how well you’re doing, basically. So if you’re getting a lot wrong, it’s going to give you easier questions. If you’re getting a lot, right, it’s going to continue giving you harder credit questions until you start getting them wrong. And this is the reason why pretty much everybody walks out of the NCLEX thinking they have failed. Because no matter how well you’re doing, the questions are getting harder and harder until you are getting them wrong. And this is why I say you’re never gonna get every NCLEX question, right. And that’s not because that’s not the goal. The goal is not to get everything right, the goal is to be able to critically think well enough to be able to answer a difficulty level above what the NCLEX company has determined is how a safe effective beginning nurse can critically think. And so because of this, okay, so because of this, whenever these other companies like ATI, and Kaplan, do a test prep, and you know, other ones out there to you world, blank Princeton Review, like there’s a lot of them out there, right? Whenever they are doing these predictive exams, or trying to prepare you in some way, they’re questions by default, have to be above like, well above that minimum difficulty level line, because unless they’re giving you a computer adaptive exam, based on their own databases, which is really, really hard to do, you have to have a huge database of questions that have been very well statistically vetted. In order to do that, it’s not an easy thing to create. So you know, so just to, if they’re just going to give you a not computer adaptive test, then those questions have to be above the minimum 50 difficulty level, in order for them to be able to confidently say that you have a good chance of passing. Because if it’s just borderline, or if they just give you questions that are at the bare minimum of passing, then if you have a bad day, you’re going to be below the passing line, right for the for the actual NCLEX. But if, if you if you’re scoring, like up here, and this is the minimum line on NCLEX. But if you’re scoring here on ATI, and Kaplan, then if you just have a bad day, and you drop down a little bit, you’re still going to be well within the passing range. Right? So this is how they did because it’s always you know, it’s in ranges, they give you ranges that are predictive. So that’s the long winded but accurate answer to how similar in difficulty of the questions are to on NCLEX to ATI, and Kaplan, because they’re going to feel more difficult in most situations. hesi is the same way. You know, that’s another company that does this exit exams and things. So they are going to feel more difficult, because they have to, in order to, you know, be fairly confident that you’re going to stay above that passing range for the exam. So I hope that clarifies it a little bit. Let’s see what else we’ve got. Carolina has a great question about any nursing students with kids. And how do you do it? Do you have the energy to study work and have time for yourself, she needs some tips. She said, She’s literally having a mental breakdown, because she’s so overwhelmed with everything. Okay, I deal with this a lot. Not all of the students in my membership, but most the majority of students in my membership are adult learners. So they’re people who come to me doing nursing as a second career, or maybe they’ve been, you know, a stay at home mom for years. And now it’s time for them to go back and follow their dream pursue their passions. And, and so they’re juggling different responsibilities than somebody who’s straight out of high school, which has its own challenges. But but there is definitely a unique set of challenges when you are going back to school after being out for a while. And one of those is kids and stuff, especially if you have to work. And so that’s why I work, you know, with a lot of that’s why a lot of the students adult learners join my membership is because I can help them to manage their time a little bit better to focus on the most important information which cuts down their study time. And really, to focus on the most important part of studying which is learning to connect the dots because that’s the way that you learn start to think like a nurse. It’s not gimmicky test taking strategies. It’s not memorizing one more random detail. It’s learning how to critically think about the information you already know. And being able to analyze and apply that and you have to do that while you study. You can’t just study the content and then hope that your brain will figure it out on the exam. So that’s doesn’t direct The answer your question, but so your question being though, how do you do it with kids. And I say this, a lot of my membership is coaching and mindset and just an encouragement and giving you permission to let things slide. Okay, I have a whole module on time management in the VIP member resources. And those, it basically walks you through how to prioritize your time, because what happens is, we think we have to do all the things. And if you’re going to nursing school with kids, you’re probably a high achiever. Most of the people who go to nursing school or high achievers, so you’re used to the certain level of competence, especially if you’re a grown adult already. And now you’re going to nursing school, and it’s something that’s new, and you’re not competent at it yet, which is normal, totally normal. If you weren’t competent at it already, you wouldn’t need to go to nursing school, you’d already be a nurse. So it’s, it’s okay, you have to give yourself permission to not be that good at it at the beginning. Because it’s about the journey, right? And so, but you need to prioritize. So for example, when I went to nursing school, I was I didn’t even have kids then. But I didn’t clean my bathroom. Okay, like maybe once a month, maybe six weeks, right. And you know, what, I survived, me and my husband, we survived, it was fine. It was good, right? You do the things that are most important to you, but you have to be intentional about it. And let the other things slide. And you have to learn to be okay with that, because you literally can’t do everything. The math just doesn’t work on your time, there’s only so many hours per day, and then just knowing it’s a season, and that you’re teaching your kids something very valuable by going through this. And so you want to do your best to teach it to them with grace and dignity and, you know, incorporate them when you can, like I have a test anxiety strategy that I teach my students that they can, that their kids can help with. You know, and I promise you, the kids love this love helping out with this no matter how old they are, from, you know, toddler to teenager. And then yeah, but I think the biggest thing is just giving yourself permission to let go of some things and not holding yourself to the highest standard. And then the other thing is grades is I tell you, because that’s part of the thing, sometimes you let slide, which you might think is kind of funny hearing from the professional nursing tutor that I’m telling you to let your grades slide. But what I’m saying is that you’re not going to get 100% in nursing school. So don’t be disappointed every time you get your test. And it’s not 100%. Right, you need to keep your focus on your goals above your grades. If your grade is good enough to get you to the next step of your nursing journey. That’s a success. Okay, that’s a success. Because it’s more important that you understand the material and you know how to apply it, then to know specifically what your grade is. And so that’s why my goal working with students in my VIP tutoring membership is always to make sure that I can help them study in a way that’s going to get their grades, solid. Like we don’t want the borderline grades, because borderline grades are really stressful, because again, one bad day, and you could flunk a test and then you fail this semester. But if you have, you know, solid grades that aren’t borderline, not an A plus, we don’t need a pluses here, we just need solid borderline or solid, not borderline grades that are going to give us the confidence to that we don’t have to stress if we have a bad day, that we can still go to bed on time without feeling guilty, which you should be able to do, you should do no matter what even if you are feeling like you’re failing or having borderline grades, and that you’re really understanding the information and the concepts, okay. And it’s also when you’re in a position like this, then when things happen in nursing school, which they almost always do, that you feel the need to advocate for yourself or your classmates, you feel a lot more confident, advocating for yourself when you’re coming from a position of strength. Because I know even though we like to think that there’s no retaliation on grades, and honestly, I have never heard of a confirmed story of that happening. But I know that you’re still worried about it. Because my classmates were worried about it. When I was in nursing school, I was sometimes worried about it, too. I advocated a lot when I was in nursing school about all kinds of different things that we didn’t like that were going on sometimes. And I always did it respectfully. But I was confident in doing that. Because my grades were solid. And I thought you know what, even if somebody were to retaliate against me, it doesn’t matter because my record speaks for itself. And they would have a hard time convincing anybody that this was not retaliation. And so I never had that I never experienced that. Just so you know, just say that we have the fears. And when you come from a solid grade, you don’t have to worry about that as much. So that’s it. It’s honestly it’s letting things go. You know, so because you you only have Have a certain size plate, and you’re going to be overwhelmed. If you try to pile on everything that was on it before nursing school and just adding nursing school, you got to take something off of it. So my time management course and my VIP tunic membership can help with that if you’re interested, and just let me know. And I’ll send you a link to read more about it. And the last question today is from AJ. This is about care plans. So she’s doing her first concept map and care plan, and was given a patient’s scenario about where they had to fill out the chief complaint or problem. She was just getting confused. Because she was looking, she thought she knew what she was looking at an example of another concept map. And it was not what she would have expected. So in this one, and she posted if you guys are interested, there’s a link where she posted a picture of it and everything too. But the summary is that the patient will hear me see me open it up real quick. So the patient in the I’m just looking at her assignment. So it was she was admitted into the ER with difficulty breathing, productive cough and fever for the past 36 hours. She got a chest X ray, it’s showed infiltrates, she was diagnosed. So she has a medical diagnosis of pneumonia. She had some blood work drawn sputum and urinalysis. And then the patient stated she has been very tired the last few weeks and hasn’t had much energy to eat very much. So the let’s see. So she’s confused because she’s like, she was admitted, you know, for one thing, but she was medical diagnosis of another thing. And then the patient stated this third thing. And so she was thinking he was thinking that chief complaint would be feeling tired with no energy, because that’s subjective info coming from the patient, but she’s not sure. And then there’s a separate box for medical diagnosis. So she rolled that out. So here’s the thing. So I think you’re getting confused here. And you need the clarification on some of the differences and what the terminology is, right? So there is objective data and subjective data, qualitative versus quantitative assessment information. And so you are correct, that the patient stating that she feels tired with no energy is subjective, because this is something that the client is self reporting. So something that would be objective would be, you know, if let’s say she just fell asleep while she was waiting for the for you to come back in, then you could report that the patient was so tired that she fell asleep while I was standing there, or whatever it was, right? That would be an example of objective because it’s something you observed. Not something, you’re just taking the patient’s word for it. However, that’s not typically what people would call the chief complaint. The chief complaint is as simple as what was the patient admitted for? Why did they come into the ER today? Now she’s telling you that she felt tired with no editor for the last few weeks. But that’s not why she came to the ER, she came to the ER because of the difficulty breathing, the productive cough and the fever over the last 36 hours. So So I would, you know, maybe put the difficulty breathing would probably be the main reason why she came in, I would guess, if I had to pick one of those three, but maybe all three of them even you could put in. So that’s what the chief complaint is. And then you were also let’s see, she had a follow up question just about something else that was in the case study, I guess she said, What does it mean to insert fully to gravity, that’s just kind of a one way of saying you just do a standard fully. So you know, fully fully catheters is what they’re talking about. And the the urine drains through the catheter. by gravity, like there’s no pump on a Foley catheter, and the person doesn’t have to bear down to get the urine out of the bladder and into the bag. So it’s just a reminder, like, you don’t even have to say like a Foley is a Foley to gravity, right? In most cases. So it’s just a reminder to keep the Foley bag below the level of the bladder, and not to loop the tubing, or to kink it in any way. Because you know, think about gravity, even if the bag is below the level of the bladder, if there’s a loop of tubing that goes above the bladder, that you’re going to have a hard time getting up around that loop, isn’t it? And so, it can cause urinary stasis, which can lead to a UTI. So we don’t want to create you know, an environment for bacteria. And then one thing I want to say to this isn’t my VIP membership, but you care plans like this. Let me see. This is this is more of a concept map than a care plan but to do like a traditional care plan that uses an pi assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation and evaluation, you can get those done in only 20 minutes. I have a training and my VIP tutoring membership that teaches how to do that. All you need is the nurses nursing diagnosis handbook, which if I was home right now, I would show it to you because I always keep it by my desk, but I don’t have it with me today. Because it basically tells you exactly what to say. It’s like a reference manual for writing care plans. And so if you understand how to use it like once I show you how to use it, you can just flip through that book with just like the basic assessment data that you get from your patient and clinicals and pull out all the best information that you need to write that care plan. I mean, like everything from nursing diagnosis to the implementation to the rationales, you know, the as evidenced by and things like that, so it’s really nice. So that’s all the questions I had for you. I got from you guys this week. I do this every Friday. So remember, always look for the image, the pinned area that says, you know, questions, tutoring q&a for the week and that will have the date of my next one. But like I said, I usually do at Fridays. And if you think of Sophie, think of anything else posted. I want to help you guys out. And I hope you have a wonderful week. Take care guys. 

I hope you found those tips helpful for your nursing journey! Remember, you can also ask me questions on TikTok, or in my free Facebook group, “Nursing Students in Nursing School”.

Obviously, I can’t get to ALL the questions I get publicly asked. But one place I CAN guarantee you’ll get an answer is in my VIP Tutoring Membership. That’s how I provide affordable online tutoring that will help YOU learn to think like a nurse faster and easier, including special training on how to study to save time using my Silver Bullet Study System. 

As soon as you join the VIP Tutoring Membership, you’ll be able to fill out your New Member Profile where you’ll tell me more about your specific situation and goals. I’ll personally review it, and email you back within a week to offer my professional tutoring recommendations for what you can immediately change to become more efficient and effective with your studies. Or even to prepare for nursing school, if you’re still pre-nursing.

In addition, you’ll immediately be invited to attend our group tutoring zoom sessions, which are always recorded if you’re not able to attend live. Or you can ask additional questions or seek mentoring advice on our private members-only forum, or through our curated training pathways for nursing or pre-nursing students. 

Before I wrap up, would you mind doing me a 30-second favor? Would you go to Apple Podcasts and write a 2-sentence Review for Navigating Nursing School with Your Nursing Tutor? Simply tell me where you’re at on your nursing journey, and why you like listening to this podcast. It’s one small way that you can support the mission of Your Nursing Tutor by helping other nursing students discover that it IS possible for “normal people”, just like you, to get through nursing school without completely sacrificing your family, your job, or even your sanity. 

Until next episode, good luck on your nursing journey!

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